The views change dramatically driving along the highway from Brisbane to Stanthorpe.
Through farmland, over Cunninghams Gap and the Great Dividing Range (Eastern Highlands) Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. Through ‘Rose and Rodeo Capital’ Warwick then into the Granite Belt region renowned for fruit-growing and wine-making. The air becomes cooler, the May autumn leaves turn russet and the landscape is littered with huge granite boulders.
Stanthorpe is a pretty little town with a lot of history as I found out when I attended my first U3A conference.
Actually the 2021 conference was a good reason to visit this fabulous part of Queensland! On arrival, after traversing the town, the next stop was Top Of The Town Tourist Park’s well-appointed accommodation in The Cottage. A modern cottage, small and cute and separate from the other cabins and campers. That didn’t stop me talking to the locals for a good chinwag. The historical museum is nextdoor and that warranted a visit on the last day, so much to see inside! Anyway, it was a quick drive into town and a visit to the supermarket, and a Peruvian Alpaca wool shop just in case there was a cold snap. I did buy a handwoven cardigan which is very warm and snuggly. My photo shows the walk down to Quart Pot Creek. The sky was a clear blue and the water reflections sparkled.
Looking across Quart Pot Creek on the path to the Tourist Information Centre.
A huge stone thermometer read 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) and a tourist bus had just arrived so there were a lot of people milling about inside looking a handmade souvenirs and ordering morning tea. I picked up several leaflets and information on local sites of interest plus must-do events, like wineries, Girraween National Park, Wallangarra Railway Station Museum & Cafe (sadly not managed this trip) Truffle tour with Truffle dog hunts, Jersey Girls Cheese factory (what an experience!) and Donnelly’s Castle which are a jumble of prehistoric granite boulders at the end of a winding gravel road. After climbing these huge mystical boulders, the view was fantastic. Then it was time to head back for a delicious lunch at Lily’s Cafe in the High Street.
My next post will feature another side of Stanthorpe. The diversity surprised me.
A visitor to Stanthorpe would need a couple of weeks to visit all the internationally renowned wineries and local attractions, both natural and man-made like The Pyramid out in a paddock! And I loved the individuality of farm produce and accommodation. Top Of The Town had a trail up the hillside where you can stand on a granite rock and look out over the town in the company of native birds and pretty wildflowers. Brisbane doesn’t get much in the way of autumn leaves (although the weather does cool down) so this blog post features red, yellow, golden leaves.
In Part Two, I will post more photographs and write briefly about the U3A Conference. The conference ran over two days and the first guest speaker was Mike Hayes, Director of Viticulture and Chief Winemaker from Sirromet Wines, Ballandean, located in the Southern Downs near the Queensland/New South Wales border.
These two ducks were not very happy that I was walking past their pond.
The Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery pond had rainwater in it from a storm the night before but otherwise water is very precious in southern Queensland. I doubt the centre fountain is ever full although it does add to the feel of the season. The U3A Conference organised a guided tour of the Art Gallery and in my second post I will show two of the local artists creations. I was particularly taken by the work of costumier Denise N Rall; landscapes beautifully rendered in different mediums; an illuminated-style book of art.
Grape vine leaves, not in a vineyard but the Stanthorpe Historical Museum.
These leaves caught my eye outside the blacksmith’s workshop. Inside was a blackened fireplace, anvil and countless tongs, pliers, buckets and metal utensils, hung around the slab bark hut. I don’t remember seeing the leather bellows to fan the flames but there must have been. The blacksmithy had a physically demanding yet highly necessary job in every town in days gone by. I found it difficult to even lift the hammer which would have been used to shape the red hot iron. And I have no doubt countless horseshoes and metal implements were forged in sheds like this with its corrugated iron roof, dirt floor and rough log seating.
Bye from sweet, sunny Stanthorpe until my next post Part Two also compiled on Queensland Day 6 June 2021.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward